Why is my Activated charcoal soap so sticky?

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Teapot

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Hello, all you experienced soapers!

I've made a couple of batches of soap with activated charcoal, and both times they have been soft and sticky for much longer than usual. The latest batch was unmoulded after about 28 hours and was far too sticky to slice. I tried 24 hours later, no luck, so I waited ANOTHER 24 hours and it was still sticky. I was able to slice it but it could have done with being left even longer really.

I've been splitting open AC capsules and using the contents, so I've looked at the ingredients and have found that it contains:

dicalcium phosphate
microcrystalline cellulose
magnesium stearate

Magnesium stearate is listed as an anti-caking agent - could this be responsible for my sticky soap, or is it one of the other additives?

The basic recipe was
30% Palm oil
30% olive oil
30% coconut oil 76
5% castor
5% shea butter

Come to think of it, both batches were fragranced with Cedar FOs - one was Cedar & Sandalwood, the other was Cedar & Lime. Is Cedar normally tricky? The reviews didn't indicate anything like that.

Thanks folks :)
 

DeeAnna

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What did you mix the AC into before adding it to your soap batter -- Oil? Water?

How much of this fat or water did you use in proportion to the fat or water in your main batch? (This is one reason why it is better to give your recipe in weights, not percentages.)

Did you account for this extra water or oil by reducing the same in your main soap batter?
 

Teapot

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Artemis - I used the contents of three capsules, forgot to weigh it before I put it in though.

DeeAnna - Sorry, I didn't realise it was preferred to post recipes as weights. I mixed the AC into the oils, before pouring the lye in. (I took a small amount of olive oil out of the weighed amount, mixed the AC into this, and then mixed that back into the main lot.

My batch isn't even black, it's a lovely shade of prison grey! It's a nice solid, even colour though :D
 

DeeAnna

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Okay, I get it now. I wasn't sure if the entire batch had AC in it or if you were doing a swirl with AC in part of the batter.

No apologies needed regarding weights vs. percentages.
 

Dahila

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I think the one from suppliers in form of powder is much better, The capsules can be use and they are very good for dogs with sensitive stomach. 3 capsules is hardly a half of teaspoon more like 1/8.
Must be the other ingredients. I mix AC with a bit of water the water I take out of my lye water, just tiny bit is enough. With the oils you used it should be rock hard soap. I do not gel my soaps so usually (I use less coconut) I give it 36 hours before cutting.
 

DeeAnna

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I have made a few soaps with AC in them, and have not seen any problems with them being soft or sticky. Your recipe looks like it should make a decent, firm bar of soap. Did you encourage the soap to gel? If the soap didn't gel, that may be the reason for the softness.

One fix is to put the soap back into the mold whether it's cut into bars or still in a slab/log form. Preheat the oven to 150 - 170 deg F (65 - 75 deg C). Put the soap into the preheated oven and let it warm up for about an hour. Check at that time. If still rather soft, leave it in the oven another 1/2 hour. It should become more waxy-firm. I've had good luck with this "cpop after the fact" method when my soap is overly soft because it didn't gel.
 

Dahila

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Maybe next time use Sodium lactate, it helps with hardness and unmolding 1 tsp or 5 ml ( I never weight it) PPO to slightly cooled lye water. It should help
First lye then SL:)
 

Teapot

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Thanks for replies everyone.

It hasn't occurred to me to CPOP after the fact - good idea.

I'm sure it must be one of the other ingredients that's in with the AC, so I'm going to save the capsules for upset tummies, and buy some powder.

It's firming up now, and am sure it will be a perfectly fine soap in it's own time, but it's just odd how much softer it was, than other soaps made with this recipe. My previous AC soap was a lard-based one, and it's a lovely soap now.

Thanks again.
 
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